Wednesday, August 07, 2019

The status of the Red House, after its closure by the Kirklees Council, is the subject of both the Yorkshire Post and The Examiner. Not good:
Listed Yorkshire mansion that Charlotte Brontë loved to visit has been 'left to rot'.
Kirklees Council ran the house as a museum from 1969 until 2016, when cuts to cultural services forced its closure. The building has been empty ever since and is up for sale.
Now a group of supporters are campaigning for it to be given back to the community and re-opened.
A petition launched to reinstate a Community Bid to Buy clause has gained around 2,000 signatures and needs 3,000 to trigger a council debate about the Grade II-listed building's future.
Local residents claim that Red House has been 'left to rot' since its closure and that the grounds have become overgrown. The site is still maintained by Kirklees Council.
One of those campaigning to bring Red House back into use is Caroline Goodwill, of Cleckheaton.
"We want it back in the community - there is so much heritage. It has links with Charlotte Brontë, with the Luddites, with the Wesleyan Methodists - they all visited the Red House. Charlotte loved to go there, and it was sort of the other side of the coin for her. If Red House was anywhere else, it would be valued, but here it has been left to rot."
The group hope to raise money via literary societies, cultural grants and public fundraising to re-open the attraction, which Caroline believes has potential to become a wedding venue. Their members include a former curator who worked at the museum.
"There is so much that can be done with the Red House," added Caroline.
After its closure, Kirklees Council made the building available as part of a community asset transfer, but then turned down three bids from volunteer groups who wished to run it, claiming they were unsuitable. It is now for sale on the open market.
It was later revealed that in the year following its closure, the council had spent around £30,000 on maintaining the site - almost as much as it had cost them to operate it as a visitor attraction.
They also admitted to using property guardians, who pay an affordable rental fee to live in empty buildings to deter vandalism and squatting.
A Kirklees Council spokesperson said:
“The closure of Red House Museum is part of our plans to improve and transform Kirklees Council’s Museums and Galleries offer for modern day audiences. We also could not afford to keep this building open as it was operating at a significant loss.
“We always look to work with our communities to deliver the best solution. That’s why we initially asked local groups interested in taking over the building in a community asset transfer to come forward, but none of the three bids we received were suitable.
“We’re in the process of putting the site on the open market. We will work to ensure that this historic site goes to someone who can deliver a suitable and sustainable long-term future for it.” (Grace Newton)
The cynicism of the Kirklees Council 'spokesperson' is astounding. The petition can be signed here.

The Examiner goes beyond that and compares what the Calderdale Council did with Anne Lister's Shibden Hall to what Kirklees Council is doing with Mary Taylor's Red House:
Thanks to writer Sally Wainwright the nation has been following the intrepid exploits of Anne Lister (1791-1840), who owned Shibden Hall in Halifax.
Yet the memory of a different brave and intrepid pioneer feminist and author, Mary Taylor (1817-1893), born just five miles away and 28 years later, is simultaneously being erased by Kirklees Council.
Shibden has seen a multi-million pound renovation, and a huge increase in visitors, but Mary’s family’s home of Red House in Gomersal, together with its outbuildings, has been closed as a museum since December 2016.
It now lies stripped of its furnishings and exhibits, with the council who own it having failed to agree to pass it on as a Community Asset, and seemingly are now determined to sell to the highest bidder.
Ironically, Kirklees Museums have recently been promoting two exhibitions which Mary would have seen both as a vindication of her own life-long attempts to understand the complex lives of women of all classes, and to gain equality. (...)
So why does Kirklees insist that it must close, and that community groups cannot buy and run it? No credible reason has emerged.
Calderdale Council, the present owners of Shibden Hall, clearly take a different view, for they have also poured millions into their magnificent Piece Hall where people like the Taylors once sold their cloth.
They clearly see this as regeneration which will pay off.
British Theatre reviews Michael Bascom's Cathy: A Retelling of Wuthering Heights as seen at the Edinburgh Fringe:
Dramaturgically, this feels like a work in progress but what saves it is Bascom’s beautiful, haunting score. Many of the songs, written in a classical style, fit the story well, whether conjuring up memories of the heathland or giving us access to Cathy’s hopes and dreams. Susannah Greenow as Nelly gives us a sweet, albeit gruesome, lullaby while the show’s director Oscar George Copper as Hindley leads the cheeky Victorian-style drinking song, swaggering round the stage clutching a flask. With her strong operatic voice, soprano Emma Torrens stands out as Cathy, both in her solo songs and her duet with Samuel Terry’s Heathcliff. While the show’s book needs tightening up, the music lifts it to the next level. (Mark Ludmon)
Still in Edinburgh. Platform:2019 at the Edinburgh Art Festival has some Brontë connection too:
Harry Maberly's videos It's me, I'm Cathy! (2017) and Babooshka (2019) see the artist take on the persona of Kate Bush by recreating her videos for 'Wuthering Heights' (1978) and 'Babooshka' (1980), serving as a humorous exploration of fandom with a more serious undertone, questioning how far people will go to embody their idols. (Arabella Bradley)
Lily Janiak explores her Austen devotion in the San Francisco Chronicle:
Once I read all of Austen’s works, I branched out to George Eliot, Fanny Burney and Charlotte Brontë — but still, Jane keeps calling me back.
Green Valley News and Hollywood's best year: 1939:
Wuthering Heights 1939
“Wuthering Heights” tells the story of Heathcliff (Laurence Olivier) and his love for Cathy (Merle Oberon), a woman from his past. The film omits 17 of the 34 chapters from Emily Brontë's 1847 book, many showing Heathcliff’s interactions with Cathy’s children. Vivien Leigh, who was in a relationship with Olivier at the time, wanted to play Cathy but studio executives didn't want an unknown playing the female lead. Leigh was later cast in “Gone With the Wind” and won an Academy Award. The set was often tense. Director William Wyler insisted on shooting the same scene from multiple angles, which led to many takes and frequent clashes with producer Samuel Goldwyn. On one occasion, Wyler made David Niven, who played Edgar Linton, perform a scene 40 times. In another scene, Olivier had 70 takes before Wyler was satisfied. The film would go 13 days over schedule but met with positive reviews and was nominated for eight Academy Awards. It won for Best Cinematography-Black and White. (Víctor Herrera)
The Washington Post reviews The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal:
Macneal is a sticky-fingered artist, lifting figures she needs from history and art. You’ll catch a touch of “Jane Eyre” and read a bit of John Ruskin. (Ron Charles)
Paste Magazine posts about the second season of the TV series Succession:
 In fact, the truest thing written about Kendall comes from critic Matthew Zoller Seitz, who Tweeted: “Poor Kendall Roy. A Byronic schlump. Nutless Heathcliff wandering the moors, sniffling.” (Allison Keene)
The death of Toni Morrison finds a Brontë connection in O Globo (Brazil):
Na verdade, seu uso do sobrenatural se aproxima mais do gótico das irmãs Brontë. (Juliana Cunha) (Translation)
Megary Books (in Spanish) reviews Jane Eyre.


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